WE CARE has been serving the Rhea County area since 1982 and has always endeavored to be open and transparent in everything we do. This past year (2016) has been the most challenging time period in our history. We were informed by the Tennessee Department of Revenue in March that we should have been collecting sales tax on everything we sell at both our Thrift Store and our Food Store with the exception of clothing and clothing related items. WE CARE thought this issue had been addressed and resolved back in the 1980's when we were informed by our State Senator that as long as all of our goods were donated then we didn't have to collect sales tax. Of course now that we know, we have been collecting sales tax since April and this has contributed to a decrease in store sales that has had a huge negative impact on our service programs. In addition, the State required us to provide them with sales data going back over four years after which, we were assessed a liability in excess of $ 300,000. Over a period of several months and with the assistance of State Senator Ken Yager and State Representative Ron Travis we were able to negotiate an offer of compromise for $ 5,000 which was accepted by the Department of Revenue. This money was subsequently donated by our Board of Directors in order to avoid having to pay it out of operating funds. So, gratefully, this issue has now been put behind us.
Then in October, we learned that our Food Pantry program was being suspended from our contract as a partner with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank (CAFB) for a period of at least six months. This notice came as a complete shock since we had just been inspected by the Food Bank two months before and were told that we were in good standing and within compliance of all policies and regulations. What led to the suspension was an allegation that we were selling donated foods. This, in fact, is not true at all. In addition, we were never given the opportunity to respond to this charge. We were simply suspended with no recourse. By way of explanation we just want to make clear that we have never required compensation or payment for food however, we did accept donations. These contributions were accepted and used to offset the cost of obtaining the food from CAFB, transporting back to Dayton and organizing it for distribution. We had a sign that read "The food you receive here is FREE however, your donation helps offset the cost of getting this food to you in this community" and those expenses are considerable. Even with our contributions, we still had to supplement nearly $25,000 to keep this program going. This situation has forced us to reduce our services in our Food Assistance program to providing emergency food assistance only because we do not have the finances to go out and pay either wholesale or retail prices for food. We are continuing to research resources that can help fill the void of not being able to partner with CAFB and are hopeful that a food resource program called King Foods might help in that regard. If you would like to know more about this program, please contact Laura Olmstead at (423) 775-1000 to find out how you can participate.
Both of these developments have put a significant strain on WE CARE as a whole but we are optimistic that better times are ahead. As Dr. Ring said, "we are going to keep working on this and doing our best to service the needs of our community. We just want to do whatever we can to make sure their needs are met and that we are empowering them to eventually be able to help themselves".
Alton Steen General Manager 423-725-4333
We Care Community Services and Thrift Store, Inc
We invite you to visit our friendly neighborhood thrift store located in the Food City shopping plaza. Merchandise is put out daily so you never know what you will find. You can donate your gently used items for resale, which will help fund our community service programs.
Our daily sales are posted and announced in the store for your convenience throughout the day. You can also visit our Facebook page at WE CARE THRIFT CENTER for a look at a few of our top selling items and possibly extra savings.
We have Senior Citizen discount day on Wednesdays for people over the age of sixty-five. It offers 10% off on non-sale or reduced items. If you don't have a card already, please ask for details.
WE CARE is dedicated to serving our community. Please show your support by visiting our store.
Pam Debes Thrift Store Manager 423-775-6595
Safe Haven and Dani's Dream Transitional Shelter
We Care has had a very busy year. Our Safe Haven Light Transitional Shelter for families with children and Dani's Dream Transitional Shelter for Adults have been in full operation and occupied to capacity nearly every single night of the year. We have seen a 97% success rate or our residents moving into permanent stable housing. WOW!! We have been blessed with a grant recently to restock our home with necessary items. We have also been partnering with area Youth Groups and Sunday Schools in our worship centers to help around the house with clean up, restock, etc. We are very pleased and thrilled that we have been able to help our most vulnerable population for so many years. Thanks for your support of this community.
Our annual golf tournament which helps fund these programs, is on April 26th this year, will be at the Dayton Golf and Country Club. If you would like to sponsor a hole or participate in this tournament contact Laura Olmstead at 423-775-1000 for more information.
Laura Olmstead Director of Food and Housing Programs 423-775-1000
One in 5 Americans faces food insecurity. For some Rhea county residents it is too often a reality they must face. We Care is constantly trying to evolve and expand our available services. Even in the face of our own struggles to find food sources. We have 3 programs we operate at under the food service umbrella.
Our Friendly Budget Market which consists of aftermarket wholesale food, pet food and household items. We purchase a semi-truck of these items approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. We then go to work preparing and pricing these items as low as possible to be a service to our community. Our mission is to make this food available to help families stretch their already minimal dollar to the fullest.
Our Food Pantry which is our emergency food assistance program; where we help qualified Rhea County residents who are in need of emergency food. We have partnered with Jackson Farm and Wooden's Apple House to provide free produce to residents during the produce season.
We also are partners withKing Foods Ministry. King Foods is a faith-based organization offering pre-boxed restaurant quality food packages for 40-60% less than store prices. One of our main family boxes is designed to feed a family of four for about a week or a single person for a month. New menus each month may also include convenience meals, bulk meat specials, kid's boxes and more! No income requirements, order limitations or applications!
We Care Food Programs strive to continually serve our community for many more years to come.
Laura Olmstead Director of Food and Housing Programs 423-775-1000
January 2015 Newsletter January 13, 2015 at 02:14PM
The year 2014 has now passed into our rear view mirror and we are excitedly entering into a new year with great anticipation and
expectations for a very productive year. The past year was quite an eventful one here at WE CARE and we hope that it was a good and
positive year for each and every one of you. I would like to share some of the highpoints from last year with you.
We started out the year organizing and promoting our first annual golf tournament to raise funds for our Micro House project which will
consist of a small community of “Tiny Homes” serving displaced families or individuals with temporary transitional shelter. The tournament
was a great success with local businesses and individuals making it possible for us to raise $ 5,000.00. At about the same time we had an
unnamed individual donate $ 10,000.00 to this project under the condition that we match that amount within twelve months. That was
accomplished in two months and this really gave us a strong jump start on moving this project forward. So, with enough money in the bank,
we moved forward and finished our first TINY HOUSE and had our grand opening ceremonies in August. We are now trying to get enough
money on hand to proceed with the next house. We welcome anyone who would like to help out with this project to contact either Alton
Steen or Laura Olmstead at the WE CARE offices.
SAFE HAVEN LIGHT was also brought on line this past year, initially to provide a local safe and stable home for children caught up in a
parent’s poor choices. After obtaining a license from the state and trying to operate the program for nearly a year, it became clear to the
Board of Directors that, due to the fact that we were receiving no reimbursement from the state for this level of care and that the local
demand for this type of housing did not rise to expected levels, we would have to redefine the services provided through this facility.
Therefore, SAFE HAVE LIGHT is now serving as a temporary shelter for displaced families that have young children. We are extremely
blessed to have Leslie Pruett serving as resident director.
In October we hosted a SAFE HAVEN LIGHT 5K run/walk in combination with a music festival which raised over $ 1,500.00. For a first time
event we had a lot of positive feedback from participants as well as attendees. So, the plans are to sponsor another similar event this fall
with the hopes of increasing our runner participation from the 70 this past October to at least 150 runners this coming Fall.
In December WE CARE partnered with a local business man from Charlie Rogers Ford to hold a Christmas Party for several needy families
from Rhea County. Santa was there along with his helpers providing food, refreshments and a pile of gifts for all the children as well as the
parents. All the parents
involved expressed their heartfelt appreciation for a Christmas that they otherwise would not have experienced. So, we want to give a great
big SHOUT OUT to Brian Smith for all of his efforts to make this event a reality for these families.
We have a lot of exciting events coming up this year – Our Golf Tournament in April, the River Run in May, the 5K Run/Walk in the Fall,
building another Hope Home sometime this year and of course, building our second Micro House for the homeless. Please continue to watch
for further details on all of these events in the near future and we solicit your involvement and help in the way of financial contributions,
materials and supplies, and whatever time you may be able to volunteer.
Laura Olmstead~ We Care Food, Shelter and Housing Programs
Wow it is 2015. As most of you I am still writing 2014. We have had a very eventful busy year. We have had some great events to benefit our homeless in the area. We have so far had two families in our Micro Home for the homeless with great outcomes.
We have been helping families with children in our Spring City location, under the careful and watchful eye of the awesome Leslie Pruitt. At this time Leslie is quite ill and the shelter is not in operation. We all continue to pray and wish Leslie well. She has really made Safe Haven such a great success through these families.
Our food programs continue to operate at full throttle. In recent months we finally acquired and assembled the final shelving needed in the Food Club. It looks awesome. We hope to continue to grow and improve in 2015.
This upcoming year we have so many hopes and goals in mind. We continue to serve the community the best way possible, and have different projects on our plate to continue to be Rhea County’s Community Service Provider. With the current news of a local manufacturer closing and moving to another state, it is our goal to prepare the best we can for those families who will be in need when this takes place.
From the desk of Ina Ring: We Care Thrift Center Director
We look forward to a new year with exciting possibilities. The Thrift Store is here to serve and benefit the community. We depend on you to help us do this. We continue to appreciate your quality donations which are vital to our existence. In addition, we need your input and suggestions as to how we can better provide what you need. I'm talking about constructive, specific ideas. We're all human so it is easy to notice and voice the things we do not like. (Specifically, we've heard our pricing of some items needs adjusting. We are working on that.)
I'm sure there are other issues some of you would like to address. We want you to do that, but in a constructive way. Unless you communicate directly with us we are sometimes unaware of what needs to be addressed. Call (423-775-6595), e-mail (email@example.com) or come by to talk with a manager. We will welcome your comments. Remember we need specifics, not generalities. We need constructive dialogue.
Also, don't hesitate to let us know what you feel we're doing right. We're human too and appreciate a little affirmation every now and then.
By working together, we can be a powerful force to enable individuals and families to better care for themselves.
As the saying goes “ You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” But we will never stop trying...
October 2014 Newsletter October 20, 2014 at 03:11PM
Time has really been slipping away and here we are already in the middle of October. This is my second most favorite time of the year. I love the fall color changes, the cool nights and early mornings, and the myriad of fall festivals that abound all around our region. One thing I don’t like is the time change that is lurking just around the corner.
As most of you are aware, we finished our first MICRO HOUSE for the homeless back in August and we are pleased to announce that we currently have a family staying in the house and it is working out wonderfully. We want to thank everyone that has had a part in making this house a reality – we could not have done this without you. We are moving forward as quickly as possible to start our next one, but of course, we can only do that as we have the funds available. So, be on the lookout here in this newsletter space to see how you can participate with us to make this possible.
Happy cooler weather all!
It has been a very busy, long summer. I feel like it has been non-stop since March. We have made such combined efforts to have successful events and complete our first micro home. Thanks to having a great support system, we have had a good run.
The food programs have been very busy. We made some changes to be in better compliance. Change is hard, but this change, as most are, has been a positive one. We have a new person on board. Everyone come in and welcome Jackie. She has been working hard to bring her talents to the store, and the store looks amazing. Alton's wife Faye has volunteered with us some. She has really cleaned this place up. I was out over a week on vacation, which was very stressful, but I am back and ready to move forward.
We have helped a family with three children in our Safe Haven Home. They are doing amazing. We have finished our micro home and have a very kind resident who works at Goodman's. He is doing amazing. We are so happy to be able to provide this service.
We had our Safe Haven 5K run and Music Festival. It was a fun and successful day. I am so thankful for Leslie and Katrina for making it all happen. Thanks to the Watts Bar Yacht Club for always supporting us.
Laura Olmstead - We Care Food, Shelter, and Housing Programs
From the Desk of Pamela Debes
It is time again for our Customer Appreciation Week. Begginning October 27th through November 1st, the thrift store will be having weekly and daily specials throughout the store. Our Christmas stock also comes out onto the shelves the first day of Customer Appreciation. We have a large selection of decorations, stocking stuffers, and trees. The last day, November 1st, we will have a drawing to give away prizes. This year they are in the form of in-store Gift Certificates. Our grand prize will be a $100.00 Gift Certificate. We hope this will benefit the people who regularly shop here.
We have this event every year around this time to show our customers how much we appreciate their support of We Care's services. Your purchases here are the main funding for our programs which help individuals and families in our community. Come on in and browse!
With the cooler air, it reminds us that our clocks will be turned back soon. Our winter store hours take effect when the time changes. On November 3rd, our winter hours will be as follows: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 7:00pm. The Saturday hours will remain the same, 9:00am to 5:00pm. I hope to see you there!
We Care June 2014, Newsletter June 24, 2014 at 10:34AM
I have now been here as the general manager of WE CARE for just over six months and it has been very rewarding to me to be associated with this organization and its’ Board of Directors. I am inspired by the board’s commitment and dedication to serving the residents of Rhea County. Also, as I observe the employees that work for WE CARE in its various programs, whether at the THRIFT CENTER, the FOOD PANTRY or other areas, I am in awe of their unselfish and committed attitudes as they perform their various duties. What a privilege it is to serve with such a wonderful group of people!
In our last news letter, I mentioned the challenges that we face in keeping the SAFE HAVEN LIGHT program viable. For the last couple of months we have not had enough money either from donations or our general operating budget to meet our salary commitments to the house parents at the home. As a result of that situation, the house parents have chosen to move out of the facility and pursue other endeavors. Without a doubt, this is a very unfortunate situation and we are very grateful to Randy and Patricia Schmittendorf for their commitment to making this program succeed. They had worked continuously there, with no time off, since last November. As they leave, we pray that God will continue to guide and bless them where ever His plan leads them. Thank you, Randy and Patricia, for your unselfish service. So, at this moment Safe Haven Light does not have full time house parents. Therefore, we will endeavor to keep the program viable, for now, by utilizing volunteers, as needed, when we have a request for a child placement. This situation is necessitating that we continue to evaluate the need for SAFE HAVE LIGHT and its long term sustainability.
In closing, I want to send out a huge shout of “THANKS” to a church teen group of volunteers from Mississippi and Louisiana called Camp Conquer. They worked for two days on several projects here at WE CARE and accomplished an unbelievable amount in the short time that they were here. What a blessing they were and we look forward to them coming back again next year.
Until next time,
Alton Steen, General Manager
Laura Olmstead - We Care Food, Shelter and Housing Programs
Kathryn and Courtney, our youth program representatives, have been hard at work organizing, cleaning and stocking our shelves. Chuck has been leading a project in the stock area with Jeremy’s assistance. He has the place looking great. We have things looking and operating much better. Karla is our ever present smiling customer favorite; she has been assisting everyone when she can.
We have had another busy month with the food and housing programs. We concluded our Father’s Day coloring contest for the kids with 3 winners.
There has been steady progress on the micro home. It is exciting to see it all come together. We soon will be able to help people with this home. We have had people coming by or calling nearly every day with housing needs. Some days we have received as much as 4 calls in one day with people in need of housing assistance. We need so badly to continue to rally community support so we can expand this home into many.
We also had a visit from Camp Conquer from Mississippi and Louisiana who helped us clean up several areas in and around the business. The Camp Conquer youth also help clean up our apartment’s area as well. They were an awesome bunch!
This fall we will be having a 5K/10K run to benefit various We Care Programs.
From the desk of Ina Ring - Thrift Center Director
It’s hard to believe we’re at the halfway point of 2014. Summer break from school just began, but in a few short weeks it will be time to return to classrooms. In July we will have out our school supplies: book bags, lunchboxes, computer bags, pens, pencils, crayons and other school related supplies.
Children going back to school may have some parents or grandparents or other care-takers wondering what to do with all their free time. We have the solution – come volunteer at the THRIFT STORE. There are clothes hangers to bundle, brass and other metals to be polished, toys to be repaired and cleaned, battery operated and remote controlled toys to be tested, strings of Christmas lights to test, plus many, many other tasks to get items ready to sell.
Call 775-6595 to express your desire to be of service. We have time slots available Monday-Friday any time between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. It can be one hour or several hours, one day a week or month, sporadic or on a regular basis. We just need to know ahead of time so we can be organized and have a plan.
I just wanted to express my appreciation to everyone involved in our first annual WE CARE GOLFTOURNAMENT. Even though our original date was rained out, the tournament proved to be a huge success on our make-up date of May 7th. We had 15 teams participate, 40 plus hole sponsors, nearly 30 businesses that donated gifts for the players and numerous volunteers that provided valuable support behind the scenes. I wanted to say a special “THANK YOU” to Ray Talley who was especially helpful on the day of the tournament and provided crucial guidance and advice on what we needed to do to make this event so successful. Again, thanks to everyone involved for making this such a “FUN” event and we are already looking forward to doing it again next year.
As most of you probably know, some of the money raised from the golf tournament is going to our MICRO-HOUSE project for displaced individuals and also some for SAFE HAVEN LIGHT, our home for displaced children ages 5-18. SAFE HAVEN LIGHT is a program that was originally initiated by Spring City businessman, Gary Venice, approximately five years ago. To say the least, it has taken considerable time for Gary’s dream to be realized and has, in the interim, come under the umbrella of WE CARE. It is here that we want to affirm that we believe 100% in the concept that SAFE HAVEN LIGHT was founded upon. Unfortunately, now that we have finally become licensed by the state as a non-custodial care GROUPHOME, this status provides no reimbursement for admissions. In order to continue the SAFE HAVEN LIGHT program, WE CARE has to reach out to the Rhea County Community to rally around this program with sustainable donations of approximately $5,000.00 each month. There has been a lot of effort put forth over the last several months to raise money, such as the golf tournament mentioned above, and we have experienced very gratifying results from this community. However, we have not raised nearly enough money to fund this program for the long term.
Where does this leave us? We may have to re-examine the future of SAFE HAVEN LIGHT as it now exists. We may have to re-format how we deliver this service. We may have to re-purpose the facility. Therefore, we solicit and invite community involvement and feedback involving the future of SAFEHAVEN LIGHT. Does WE CARE believe there is a need for this service? – Absolutely!! In numbers, is the need GREAT? – No! We now understand that we will serve perhaps between 8-10 children a year, and WE CARE simply cannot afford to carry this kind of financial commitment without significant and sustainable involvement by the Rhea County Community. If you have any questions or comments regarding this program, please contact ALTON STEEN through the main WE CARE office. The telephone number is (423)775-4333.
Thanks again to everyone involved for making the annual WE CARE GOLF TOURNAMENT such a great success!!
Alton Steen, General Manager
Laura Olmstead - WE CARE FOOD, SHELTER AND HOUSING PROGRAMS
We Care Food and Housing Programs have had a busy month. We Care Food Pantry saw a slight increase in food needs in April due largely to many families having children home all day during spring break, therefore their food costs go up. We received another semi-truck load of food for our Food Club for our shoppers to benefit from. We have been also very busy trying to put our efforts into a successful Charity Golf Classic to benefit the homeless initiatives. It has been fun work going out into the community meeting the area residents and business owners. They have been so generous and kind in helping us as a community work towards a common goal of serving and helping those most in need. We plan another Community Homeless Meeting May 20th at 5:30 pm. This meeting we will invite attendees to walk and see the progress as well as discuss a chronological plan of action to get the micro home ready. In one short month the property has been cleared, site and prep work complete and our micro home have been moved to its permanent location. It is very exciting knowing how many families will receive relief from a horrible crisis of homelessness in this home.
From the desk of Ina Ring - THRIFT CENTER DIRECTOR
REDUCE, REUSE, andRECYCLE. Those are the 3 R’s of recycling. WE CARE shares in this philosophy and practice of recycling.
My Mother grew up during the depression. Her family had it rough, so the 3 R’s were just a way of life for them. Her thrifty ways were passed on to me and my siblings. I, in turn, have incorporated them into daily operations at the THRIFT CENTER.
REDUCE: We try to reduce our use of water, electricity and supplies. The world at large is finding our natural resources are not limitless. It sounds trite, but it is true, that a penny saved is a penny earned.
REUSE: The THRIFT CENTER reuses plastic grocery bags in which to put customer’s purchases. The items purchased are all “reused” – items donated by individuals and businesses that realize there is more use left in the quality things they no longer need.
We also reuse cardboard boxes (e.g. banana boxes, apple boxes, large appliance boxes, etc. to store seasonal items (winter coats, blankets, holiday décor). Books and magazines, shoes and purses, kitchen items and what-knots are priced and put in boxes to make distribution onto the store shelves easier. Sturdy large boxes are used to hold the clothes, etc. for the “free box” area. (For those who haven’t been in the THRIFT CENTER – the “free box” area is a room at the front of the store where we put items that need repair, are out of season, have stains, etc. We give away upwards of 20,000 items each month from this area.
RECYCLE: Sometimes we get large appliances that would cost more to repair than they are worth; small appliances that the motor has long since given up any signs of life, single shoes, discarded school books, out-of-date encyclopedias, and no longer needed medical supplies. These are some of the items that other people and organizations find useful. We pass these items on to them.
We strive to be conservative with all our resources, make the best use of the variety of donations that come to us, and send as little as possible to the landfills (ALL PART OF THE 3 R’s), while presenting clean and affordable products to our customers.
We appreciate all you do to help us be conscientious stewards of your donations while enabling individuals to receive a HAND UP!
“I arrived back in 2012. My bf at the time had got deported. I was left out in the cold during winter.
THANK GOD We Care had a Safe Haven home. Y'all took me in no questions asked. I was broken. Thought life was over; however, I think that’s when things got better for me. I had hit rock bottom. Within a week of being at the home I had gotten a job at Mickey D and quickly saved up to get my own place. It wasn't the best but it was a place I could call home. When I didn't have no food We Care helped! I can't thank y'all enough! By the grace of God I'm doing very well now.
Matter of fact I'm a proud mobile home owner. Thanks We Care!!!!!!!!!! ”- Jennifer R.